Creating a career development plan will help you establish both short- and long-term career development goals, identify strategies for enhancing the competencies necessary to achieve those goals, and explore ways to leverage your strengths and talents within your current position to advance your career. Leveraging five simple steps, you can create a roadmap for your career.
Step 1: Establish Your Starting Point — Know Where You Are
Explore how you feel about your current role, brand, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and competency level. Be introspective and ask yourself: Am I satisfied with my role and how others view me? What knowledge, skills, and abilities do I bring to the table?
To better understand your knowledge and abilities, assess your current competency with The IIA's Internal Audit Competency Framework. Determine your competency level within the 22 knowledge areas among four disciplines: Professionalism, Performance, Environment, and Leadership and Communications.
Step 2: Set Your Direction — Identify Where You Want to Go
Remember what it felt like in college once you determined your major and knew your end goal? Career development planning can provide you with that same sense of direction. You can pinpoint both interim stops and the ultimate destination for your career over the next five years while building your plan. Some simple actions to help you set your direction include:
- Discuss career opportunities with supervisors, colleagues, and mentors.
- Share interests and seek insights on their perceptions of you, your performance, and your potential.
- Reflect on your current organizational environment. How is it evolving to meet stakeholder needs? How are expectations of your role and function changing, and how can you add value?
In addition, ask yourself these questions to set your direction:
- Is my immediate focus on developing new skills to enrich my current job performance?
- Is my next career step lateral, up, or over in another organization? What experiences do I need?
- What specific role do you have your sights set on? What skills do you need to develop?
- What do I want to achieve in the next one, three, and five years?
Step 3: Plan Your Journey — Explore How You Will Get There
Remember, no two career journeys are the same. While you may move through the same sequence of roles as another person, you have unique strengths and development opportunities to leverage. Map your path by exploring the requirements and competencies for the positions you aspire to over the next five years. Focus on capitalizing on your strengths and addressing opportunities to get where you want to be. Review the job descriptions that interest you the most to:
- Determine the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics you need to secure those positions.
- Identify the specific skills, experiences, and knowledge you need to acquire for your year one, year three, and year five stops on your career journey.
Use the Internal Audit Competency Framework to identify competency gaps.
Step 4: Map Your Route — Document Actions, Measures, and Timelines
Commit to achieving your career goals — document the specific actions you will take, timelines for completion, and how each activity supports your objectives. Determine which activities will be most beneficial to you on your career journey. These activities might include:
- Staying up-to-date on practices, knowledge, and emerging trends in the profession through online content, news sources, publications, and more.
- Pursuing additional education, training, or professional certification.
- Engaging in mentoring programs as a mentor or mentee.
- Participating in networking and volunteering activities.
- Assuming additional tasks or challenging responsibilities within your current role.
- Leading collaborative projects, developing reports, and presenting findings.
Step 5: Monitor Your Progress and Course-correct
Create an accountability mechanism by sharing your plan with a supervisor or mentor, and discuss your progress quarterly to stay on track with your career journey. You may encounter detours, roadblocks, or take side roads, so establishing regular check-ins with those you admire and respect can help you course-correct or adjust your plan to accommodate new destinations.
Remember, this is your plan. You are the only one accountable for success. It is the actions you take and choices you make that will move you forward through your journey. Adventures await.
Carrie Summerlin, CCSA, is vice president, Internal Audit Foundation at The IIA.